The Sea

My unclse was scared of the sea. we were sitting on a beach in Wembury (Devon) when I was around 13 and we was writing about concentricity and acentricity – the kind of thing a university mathematician might be writing about – when he told me this. I love the sea as an idea but at the time was not a great swimmer and I like being in the sea but was scared of drowning.

I remember being very surprised. here was a bog man with broad shoulders who should be a great swimmer telling me he was scared of the sea. I asked him why. He told me it was a vast expanse, easy to get lost in and he didn’t like the idea of being lost in it.

To this day the idea of being a master mariner and on a boat in the middle of the ocean watching forty foot waves and not being near anyone else, delights me. But then I am a dreamer and my uncle was a realist. if you have a home, you can be lost but if you don’t have a home …

What We Are Told

The ploy of redacting important information before giving it to a Parliamentary Committee underlines all we have come to expect after 5,000 years of rule by those who enjoy ruling: they wish to always control the flow of information.

They were caught out when printing presses were created and for all we know, they didn’t like the egalitarian nature of clay tablets, and now they are trying to rein in Internet provisions. China and turkey are not alone in determining what users in their countries can and cannot access.

It isn’t that the Conservative Party have done this to steam roller the country into the Napoleonic trenches favoured by Brexiteers, it is that they trumpet freedom at every turn. I would have more time for liberal tyranny if they admitted what they were and not pretended to be Father Christmas.

You Know You Had A Good Day

When the rain came down while you were in the car driving but when you were walking around St Ives in Cornwall it was cold but bright, bright sunshine and everyone loved your dog. The lady in the cafe who asked if she could pet my Rough Collie, and said she used to have one; the lady in the gallery who didn’t want me to move my dog from her relaxed sitting position by the front door, and the others who patted her head and smiled at her.

My dog, and those of many others, gives people an excuse to be pleasant and civilised. Of course secretly she and I know she is not my dog, she belongs to herself and knows a good thing and a warm home when he finds one.

That said Queenie, known as Queenie-Coleen to my American friends who refuse for some reason to think Queenie is an actual name here in the UK, is a very restful dog who only runs as pigeons until she is told not too.

The Cost of Capitalism

I wonder about our priorities. I am not the only one, almost anyone who sees the world of politics wonders to. It seems we are saddled with a system that is antithetical to ethics and nature. It exploits to make more money and the least ethical it is the greater the profits that can be made.

No one seems capable of seeing the hideous personality of capitalism because it gives them phones and movies and warmth in winter. But the best way to describe its depravity at present would be this.

In my lifetime, and possibly for at least the past 100 years, there has been the money within the systems to give every human being on earth access to fresh, clean water, a home and enough food to eat. I cannot even count the millions who have died from hunger, water borne diseases and lack of shelter in that time. There is the absolute cost of individuals making and keeping money, and not one of us has clean hands.

There Comes a Time

All over my house I have beautiful photographs. there are dogs, collies and terriers mostly, people smiling who have grey hair, people smiling who have long hair, kids and friends. The people are wearing clothes long since out of fashion and the dogs on occasions are also dressed-up just for the fun of it. I was always aware that even when taking the happiness I was also preparing myself for the fact that one day, all these people would be ghosts and all I would have left was the photographs.

That day finally fell in 2016 when my mother died. Then even the oil painting of her became the painting of a ghost.

I cannot part with any of these images, I cannot bear to see them for long either. I think I am the only member of the family to even have a picture of my grandfather on display. It is easier when you didn’t actually know the people personally.

Most of all I miss voices. The doggie voices and the people I love. All the faces I will never see again but in these photographs.

So Many Parents

Don’t get that they are still children.

We all abide by rules given us by others for our own good. If we break them we expect to be taught a lesson we will not forget. We all obey the holidays set for us by others and run our lives by clocks devised, admittedly for very intelligent reasons, around the movements of the sun.

We do things other adults do just as kids do what other children do. And we congratulate ourselves if our cars are bigger, are salaries larger, our holidays longer our family gatherings fun. More and more of us dress the same. Are dressed by couturiers who design mass market clothing. We have learned how to react or not in various situations and we all indulge in movies and TV while asking our children not to sit in front of screens so much.

We overeat, we love sweets and we don;t listen to advice from others unless it might make us some money and we lie regularly.

Yes, most parents are still children.

Stand Up Comedy

The glorious aspect of comedians is that they can be subversive. That they are allowed to talk truth to power with no consequences. That is the tradition of the Court Jester, a place that today is taken by Grayson Perry in the UK.

The circus clown coming down from the village and town touring artistes who were the stars of their day and brought news as well as comment to the locale, often seen in the UK Pantomime tradition where local jokes are de rigueur.

The modern TV stand-up comedian is a variant tradition that started when theatre started and took comedy onto the stage. They are not as subversive today as they once were. They don’t all cut away at the edges of acceptable speech but try just to be funny for its own sake. Some are barely funny at all, more political satire.

But all of these traditions have one thing in common. The audience. The audience wants to be entertained so much so that a modern comic can become a millionaire. The mine artistes of yesterday would hardly believe that possible.

No Feelings?

Yesterday 313 MPs in the British Government, in the age of Jane Goodall voted that animals have no emotions and no feelings. To put that in context for you, this is pure Catholic teaching, a church which also tells us they have souls.

The self serving nature of this vote is obvious, we need to experiment on animals and kills them to make money. The ignorance of this vote in an age of DNA and the wide research  sometimes done by killing the individual animal – into rain chemistry – proves we are all related. Proves that higher order animals have synapses which make connections just as we do. You only have to see altered behaviours such as elephants breaking the tusks of their dead, to know they know.

But 313 MPs in Westminister don’t care about science they only care about power and money. The true nature of a human being lies in how they treat those over whom they have power. The Hague just found a man guilty of war crimes. I find 313 British MPs guilty of war crimes against the animal kingdom. A war we have waged for thousands of years without cease.



A Great Cycle of Change

In 1979 Khomenei flew from France where he had been in exile, to Iran as the old Shah was ousted. It was the first time in decades the news has become interesting and all that has flowed from that event should be a warning to France that people who take refuge in their borders as freedom fighters are not always the nicest or best people to help.

That aside Brexit has begun a new change in the UK. More people I have spoken to than a year ago are either thinking of taking out citizenship in the European country they have lived in for years, or migrating out of the UK. People who are married to European citizens are happy their children will be able to choose. There will be a population change.

This change will mostly be among the educated, internationally involved population and won;t include land owners who are bound by what they own but rich enough not to care either way. But the middle classes are moving and the UK will lose a large, talented group of people who would never follow Gove and Johnson into anything, anywhere at any time.

On Reading Ben Johnson

I have loved faces silvered with gloom
Faces dipped into light stolen from the moon –
I have loved faces humoured by the sun
Flickered by sunbeams as the day has run.

I have loved backs like perfect trees
Straight and fi rmed to thighs and knees
And hands where fi ngers like fl owers
Sway away unpleasant hours –

I have loved eyes that shelter tears
Before they fall as fall the years
And merry eyes full of happy laughter
Eyes that sorrow cannot master –

I have loved voices that only echo right
I have loved voices heard in darkest night
Voices not deformed by angry lives
Voices free from vulgar thought or bribes.

I have loved lips that moulded rhyme –
Kissed the poets’ words from every time –
Even if furious demons invent my pain
I shall love all these again –

Shänne Sands,
from the selection of poems Fragments of Desire published by FootSteps Press

Self-Help Social Media

I stopped being on Facebook and had to rejoin again when I started to edit the New Art Examiner because, wouldn’t you know it, I had to be visible and engaged. Arthur Ransome the children’s author was visited by children on his quasi-island and he complained he started writing to get away from people, not attract them.

But this accessibility issue is one we have come to accept. Privacy has a new boundary and we do not trust people who are invisible. In fact part of the practice of conspiracy theorists is that they are uncovering the invisible, and the unknown in the visible. That makes sense  and is probably the definition of a conspiracy.

But the reason people want to see you on social media is not to prove you exist – people are not that stupid. Inventing lies on social media is much easier than in real life. People want to validate themselves and they do so through this discourse and their daily routine on social media. Somehow all this promotes their business, somewhere in all this they find the self-help advice they need, somewhere in all this they switch off from problems, have their say, feel empowered to walk away from certain unsavory things but still be aware they are there.

Social media is a huge psychiatrist couch.

Spike Milligan You Are Missed

After five days in hospital, I took a turn for the nurse.

I have the body of an eighteen year old. I keep it in the fridge.

I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

Is there anything worn under the kilt? No, it’s all in perfect working order.

Spike Milligan: ‘How are you at Mathematics?’ . Harry Secombe: ‘I speak it like a native’.

All men are cremated equal

Many people die of thirst but the Irish are born with one Spike:

I thought I’d begin by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine.

Money couldn’t buy friends, but you got a better class of enemy.

Money can’t buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.

My father had a profound influence on me. He was a lunatic.

We were making love in the back of a truck and we got carried away.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all the people some of the time, which is just long enough to be president of the United States.

And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, but the Electricity Board said he would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.

Clifford had a sister, but she had departed, that is, she caught the ten-twenty from Victoria.

Contraceptives should be used on all conceivable occasions.

A Parliament of Fools

My College asked me to write to them to see how they could improve what they offered their alumni. I told them they needed to teach ethics to all those who might go into politics.

When I was at College there were 33 members of Parliament in the UK who were old members. Today there appear to be about 15 one of whom is Boris Johnson. I don’t know what he studied but he plays Westminister as a game. It isn’t his fault that is how we are taught to be because the potency of power is demeaning your opponent as well as leading your country. The games of the debating chamber become the life unless you already have an ethical basis to your thinking.

But when you make it all a game and are so used to women going down on you you think you can fuck the country, that attitude comes only from a miss in your education. ethical behaviour is not inherited, we have to learn how to lie.

So Here We Are Again

Another President another impeachment. Five counts. A show trial that usually only shows how easy it is for lawyers to make millions arguing over words while the party being judged goes about his work as usual but for a day or two in court. Unlike Clinton I doubt the present man will ever go to court.

But can we stop pretending these men are to blame for who they are and the decisions we ask them to make? It is the voters who require a figurehead. It is the voters who require men and women to make decisions for them. The road to that role encourages liars and people of deep cunning, even when they do not start out that way, because to get elected you have to know how to manipulate a system.

So while we impeach a President and the liberals can congratulate themselves that checks and balances are working, let’s remember we made him, we encourage the system by agreeing to it and if we really wanted it to be different, it would be.

Money Is Not A Simple Joy

Everyone knows that some art costs a fortune to own but not everyone knows what it cost the artist to create.

Not that anyone cares much today, even if some may have in the past. Most people who understand the sorrow and pain and frustration of creating are friends, lovers or empathetic patrons of artists. And even understanding is not experiencing. The worry, The crowding in of other things to the pure creative moments, the headaches, the sleeplessness and the inevitable dissatisfaction with the finished work.

I do wonder if any artist, across the board, has ever felt they have created a perfect work for them. They have often envied other’s talents but the drive to try again is not always about having to have money to survive and not wishing or being skilled at anything else. It is also about trying again to ‘get it right’ this time.

Of course wealthy people just want the name in their property. A few love the work. Most love themselves more. I wonder if the people who just bought Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi would run into a burning building to save the work if it were worth £10. If they wouldn’t, and if you wouldn’t, they and you understand nothing of art and everything about marketing. These works are either the core of western civilization or they are not.

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